2023 Amy J. Blue Award winners announced
The award recognizes the exceptional contributions of Stanford staff. President Marc Tessier-Lavigne will present the awards at a ceremony on Thursday.
Three Stanford employees are recipients of the 2023 Amy J. Blue Award, which recognizes staff for their exceptional contributions to the university, passion for their work, and support for their colleagues.
This year’s winners are Susan Weersing, associate dean for graduate and undergraduate studies in the School of Humanities & Sciences’ Dean’s Office; Carole Miller, program manager for meal plan operations in R&DE Stanford Dining, Hospitality & Auxiliaries; and Jacqueline Genovese, executive director of Stanford Medicine & the Muse program in the School of Medicine’s Biomedical Ethics.
President Marc Tessier-Lavigne will present the awards at a ceremony on Thursday, May 18, at 3 p.m. at Lagunita Court. All are welcome.
The Amy J. Blue Award is presented annually. Winners are nominated by fellow staff and faculty and then selected by the Amy J. Blue Award committee. This year, the committee received 637 nominations for 266 individual nominees. The award comes with a $4,000 prize.
The award is named for Amy J. Blue, a long-time Stanford employee who held numerous positions at the university in the 1970s and 1980s, including assistant provost from 1973-78, and associate vice president for administrative services and facilities from 1987-88. Blue died of brain cancer in Palo Alto in 1988. She was 44.
Following are the 2023 Amy J. Blue Award winners.
Jacqueline Genovese said she never met Amy J. Blue but relates to her battle with cancer at a young age. When Genovese was 25, she lost her oldest sister, Maria, to cancer, and later, her sister Natalie, mother, and grandmother to the disease. Maria was just 33 and, like Blue, had young children.
“I so appreciate that the award helps make meaning out of loss by honoring the extraordinary impact Amy had on everyone around her,” Genovese said.
Genovese is from Rockville, Maryland, and studied history and English at the College of William and Mary. She later received a master’s degree in medical humanities from the University of Texas and an MFA in creative nonfiction from Pacific University. In 2013, she made a career change from university relations to a role as assistant director for the Medical Humanities and Arts program. She is now its executive director.
Housed in the School of Medicine’s Biomedical Ethics department, the program provides opportunities for medical students, residents, practicing physicians, healthcare professionals, and patients to engage in the arts and humanities.
“Historically, the arts and sciences were not split,” Genovese said. “The medical humanities field was created out of a desire to get back to the understanding – based in the Renaissance – that science and the arts complement each other and are not separate.”
Under her leadership, the program has grown considerably, offering literature classes around medicine and the military, a Stanford Medicine orchestra and chorus, and unique programs that combine the arts and medicine, like Anatomy of an Opera Singer, and Dance and Neuroscience. Her many accomplishments include co-leading the creation of the award-winning virtual Stuck @ Home Concert series during the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Aiming Higher after 50” conference, which empowers people to reflect on and reinvent their lives, the award-winning Apart-Together COVID-19 Remembrance Project, and the Black Brilliance Creative Arts Showcase.
Colleagues praised Genovese’s ability to problem-solve and connect with others, describing her as “warm-hearted” and “empathetic” and dedicated to the people with whom she works. One nominator said, “… she is the ultimate people-person and has the most positive attitude of anyone I have met at Stanford.”
Genovese said she is honored to receive the award and acknowledged the role that the greater Stanford community plays in her work. “There are so many amazing folks at Stanford, and that’s really what makes this place special,” she said. “It’s the people who make what we do meaningful.”
Genovese said the love and support of her children and grandchildren have been a vital source of inspiration and strength on her journey. “They are my heart,” she said.
During Carole Miller’s 35-year career at Stanford, she’s worked at dining halls across campus, from Ricker, to Wilbur, to the Gerhard Casper Dining Commons.
“What I’ve always loved was being in the front of the house and getting to know the students,” Miller said, adding that she can easily recall names, faces, and conversations with people she met years ago.
“That’s the kind of stuff I remember,” she said. “I remember ‘people things’.”
Miller is originally from Nebraska. When her husband’s job relocated them to the Bay Area in 1988, she found work at Stanford Dining and has been there ever since. Her contributions to the university are numerous.
For 27 years, she was the dining hospitality manager in the dining halls. After leaving, she held various roles in Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE), including student engagement manager, a role in which she helped plan special dining hall events to celebrate Dia de los Muertos and Lunar New Year, organized tours, and oversaw the Dining Ambassador Program.
Today she is the program manager for meal plan operations for R&DE Stanford Dining, Hospitality & Auxiliaries and works out of the Elliott Program Center, where she manages meal plans for students, faculty, and staff, helps prepare dining services for summer conferences, and much more.
Her colleagues praised her leadership, her dedication to inclusivity, and her collaboration with campus partners. One nominator explained how Miller’s unique ability to connect with others, especially students, resulted in a nickname.
“Both staff and students refer to her as ‘Mama Carole’ because of her welcoming, heart-warming personality,” they said.
Another nominator said, “I feel lucky to work with her. Her positivity and sense of humor are infectious.”
Miller’s contributions to Stanford have been recognized before; she was the winner of the Keith L. Guy Award, which honors R&DE employees for their exemplary service. She said that she is honored to be recognized once again by her colleagues through the Amy J. Blue Award.
“I just love Stanford University. It’s such a great place,” she said. “And I’m very, very blessed.”
As associate dean for graduate and undergraduate studies in the School of Humanities & Sciences Dean’s Office, Susan Weersing knows what it takes to respond to a crisis.
“Urgent issues are my bread and butter. Putting out fires is what my team and I do every day,” she said.
So, it was no surprise when her boss, Dean Debra Satz, recently called her into a conference room for another critical matter. But it turned out there was none. Instead, Satz and other H&S colleagues broke the news to Weersing that she’d been awarded an Amy J. Blue Award.
“To be surprised by not only my dean, but my friends and colleagues in the dean’s office and around campus was incredibly special,” she said.
Weersing’s connection to Stanford goes back generations. Her grandparents met while enrolled at Stanford. So did her parents. Weersing was born at Stanford Hospital, grew up in the area, and graduated from Stanford with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
“Stanford is part of my family lore and identity,” she said.
She started her career at a local nonprofit that supports persons with disabilities. Ten years in, she decided to pivot and landed in Stanford’s sociology department, where she held various roles. For the past 13 years, she’s worked in the H&S Dean’s Office.
“My staff describe us appropriately, I think, as everything students, everything academics, and everything that just doesn’t fit anywhere else – stuff and things,” she said.
Weersing’s many contributions include serving on the Graduate Affordability task force, participating in the Future of the Majors long-range planning design team, contributing to the elimination of course fees working group, working on the Academic Continuity group during the pandemic, and co-chairing the Disability Task Force.
Colleagues said Weersing is kind, honest, and supportive, and an exceptional colleague and leader.
“She’s served as a mentor to countless staff members and students and as a sounding board for many of our faculty,” wrote one nominator.
Weersing, who is now in her 25th year at Stanford, said she is grateful for the support of everyone with whom she works.
“I truly am honored and humbled,” she said. “And to have the support of faculty, staff, and students is such a glorious recognition.”